Over the last two years, I’ve been to a lot of races, I know exactly what I need to pack on a race weekend, the best places to sit/stand or take photos from and all sorts of other somewhat useful information.
This is the first of what will be a new feature. This one will be general useful information for all tracks, while future posts will contain information about specific tracks, series and camping tips.
I’ll start off with some general tips, most of them are pretty simple and just for people that haven’t been to any/many races before:
- Give yourself extra time to arrive – Traffic can often be an issue for the bigger events, and even if traffic isn’t a problem, satnav directions and local signage aren’t always the best.
- Stock up on some snacks before arriving at the track – Track food is expensive, at lunch the queues are long more often than not, and at certain tracks, the food stands will close before the final event does, so if you’re camping at the track you may not be able to get a hot meal in the evening.
- Change the settings on your phone to use 3G, not 4G – At most tracks for a bigger event your 4G data will either just completely stop working or be very intermittent and slow. Almost everyone will be connecting to 4G, but far fewer will be on the 3G network, so generally (though not always) it’s far better and quicker to use 3G instead. It’s not a perfect solution as there are still issues, but generally, I’ve found it’s far more stable and usable. It’s also a useful life hack in other situations where there are big crowds!
- Learn where the food/drink stands are and what they are – Many tracks will have a lot of people in one place, all queueing for the same thing. Often if you just walk in another direction there will be another place to eat with a far shorter queue (I find this to be particularly true at Brands Hatch). It can also be worth taking a slightly earlier or later lunch break to avoid the queue.
- Take your rubbish with you – This shouldn’t even need to be said, but I’ve seen so many grandstands littered with discarded bottles and wrappers, it’s not hard, just take everything with you and put it in a bin, there are enough of them around.
- Take water – You will get thirsty, and paying at least £2 for a bottle of water, particularly when it’s hot, is going to cost you a lot over a race weekend.
- Bring cash – At a lot of tracks they won’t take card at all. Silverstone does tend to take card, but it’s based on sometimes questionable 4G internet connections, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen places advertise that they take card and then have to turn people away because it isn’t working, cash always works. Note: Since first writing this more places do seem to take card now, but a small amount of backup cash is always useful.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Chances are you’ll be on your feet and walking a lot, comfortable shoes are a must or you may end up with painful blisters that ruin the rest of the trip.
- Learn where the shade is – Some tracks (notably Thruxton) have little to no shade at all for many parts of the track, and on a long summer day it gets scorching by mid-afternoon. So if you know where to get to by that time, it makes it easier.
- Move around – If it’s your first time at a track, don’t just stick around in one space. Explore, move around further down the track between each session, you’ll find some great spots and learn for next time where you like best.
- Protect vulnerable people’s ears – Ear protection can usually be bought/given at the track but if you’re bringing children with you, buy some in advance, cars can be dangerously noisy.
- Check the timetable before arriving – Some tracks have later start times or pit walks before track action begins, don’t arrive too early and wait around for hours before anything starts.
- Check the social media accounts – The social accounts of the track/series you’re going to on the day often have useful information or competitions for those attending.
- Do pit walks, but be wary – Pit walks can get very busy, you probably won’t be able to see everything. Prioritise who/what you want to see most on a pit walk. The bigger drivers/teams will have longer queues and often pushier fans. Also, be polite, drivers will respond a lot better with pleases and thankyous.
- Be patient when leaving – Traffic when leaving a venue can be horrific at some tracks and events. Don’t bother rushing out, take your time, and if you/someone you’re with needs to catch a specific train after the race, it’s better to get one later than you think is necessary, Thruxton, in particular, can be awful for traffic on the way out.
- Track commentary – Most tracks have commentary that can be heard around the track, but sometimes it’s too quiet to hear over the cars, so tuning into the frequency (normally 87.7fm)/radio webstream with your phone and some headphones can be useful to get that bit of extra information.
- Find the screens – Bigger events usually have big screens around the track showing the coverage (sometimes only on the Sunday and not Saturday), it can be worth finding a good spot where there’s some action, but where you still have a view of the big screen for anything that isn’t immediately in front of you.
- Have fun – Don’t try and do everything in one day, just enjoy it and learn from anything that can be changed for the next race.
Now that you know what to do and expect, how about what to bring? The list will start off with things to take with you to the track, and then everything with a * after it will be for a hotel trip.
First off, make a physical list, and tick off as you pack, you won’t forget things this way.
- Camping chair (not always required, depends on the track, generally not worth it for a heavily-grandstanded circuit such as Silverstone)
- A bag of some sort
- A hat
- Sun cream (and a spare should it run out)
- Cash (as mentioned, not everywhere will take card, and it won’t always work)
- Ice packs/a frozen drink (if it’s hot, these are amazing and make your drink so much more refreshing)
- Umbrella (useful for both rain and sun at tracks with little/no shade)
- Multiple layers (the weather won’t stay the same all day, make sure you can cool off, warm-up or get waterproof as and when required, especially in Britain)
- Your tickets (they definitely come in useful, unless you’re paying on the gate)
- Pens (particularly Sharpies or similar, never know when you might want something signed)
- A power bank (probably not needed for a one-day event, but worth taking along anyway)
- Spare bag space (don’t fill your bag, always keep some space free for extra layers or something to buy at the track such as merchandise)
- Suitcase/second bag*
- Toiletries* (I personally keep a second set of everything permanently in my suitcase, means I’ll never forget anything)
- Clothes & underwear*
- Evening entertainment* (optional, but if you’re staying for several nights some form of entertainment is probably worth taking)
That’s it for the general guide, if you have any other tips or suggestions of things to take feel free to leave a comment and I may add them to the guide.